Charg? d?Affaires, of the United States (US) Embassy in Accra, Melinda Tabler-Stone said here during a three-day Africa Regional Intellectual Property Enforcement Workshop organized by the US Patent and Trademarks (USPTO) in collaboration with the US Embassy.

USPTOSpeaking at the ceremony, Tabler-Stone said protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights had become increasingly important in today?s global economy in terms of fostering innovation and more importantly, protecting consumers.

She observed intellectual property protection stimulates economic and cultural development, improves business competitiveness as well as attracts foreign direct investment.

Balanced, adequate, and effective intellectual property enforcement mechanisms, according to her were the best means to ensuring that rights holders and society as a whole could reap the benefits from the intellectual property system.

She said ?A robust national intellectual property right enforcement mechanism could be a catalyst to attracting foreign direct investment (FDI).?

Tabler-Stone emphasized investors would always bypass markets that failed to adequately protect the intellectual property they have worked so hard to create.

Here in Ghana, we have entrepreneurs like Shirley Frimpong-Manso, a Ghanaian film director, writer, producer and founder as well as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Sparrow Productions.

Frimpong-Manso has received global praise for bringing strong, fully formed female characters to the screen. The Charg? d?Affaires said ?She must perfect her craft while working in both a protracted economy and a struggling local film industry. It is the lawful sale and screening of her work that finances the next project.

She and her contemporaries rely on the people in this room to enforce IP laws, so that their work product is protected and they are able to continue to innovate and invest in the arts. Shirley?s films are just one example of how intellectual property protection plays a central role in economic and cultural development.”

IPR enforcement Tabler-Stone further emphasized serves as an important tool to improve the national and regional competitiveness of businesses resulting in new job creation, economic growth, and societal development.

Acting Registrar General, Mrs. Jemima Oware said Ghana, like many other developing countries has had challenges with the utilization of the intellectual property system with flagrant infringement of intellectual property rights.

This she said, records in her outfit, which also is the National Industrial Property Office indicate that over 70% of registered industrial property rights were foreign owned.

According to her, the Department received 3,034 trademark applications in 2014, out of which the local content was 970, representing 32% of the total number of applications.

It has been argued that IPR awareness in Ghana, like other developing countries was inadequate but noted measures were being put in place to protect the work of people.

“For example, the Ministry of Trade and Industry led Government task force on enforcement of textile designs that saw a significant number of seizures and destruction of counterfeited and pirated textile designs in 2013.

It was reported in the July 6 2013 alone that, 1550 pieces of pirated textiles were seized and destroyed by burning at Kpone in the Greater Accra Region. Perpetrators of such activities are mainly traders with supplies from China”, she stated.

These traders when processed for court, often times were found to be innocent infringers. It is therefore not surprising that we have fewer local applications and frequent reported infringements.

Mrs. Oware observed adequate awareness could contribute to a reduction on infringement of intellectual property rights.

This is because awareness creation is likely to reduce the number of innocent infringers and cause the users of intellectual property rights to appreciate, recognize and respect the rights of the holders of intellectual property,” she noted.

The three-day workshop was aimed at increasing the participants? familiarity with basic intellectual property protection, provide information on counterfeit medicines, and also to explain enforcement, investigation and prosecution techniques.

Source: Roger A. Agana –

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